OAKLAND, Michigan – When members from Farmington Hills Police Department and the Muslim community center met last week for a volleyball match, the net score was not the only goal achieved during the match.
“We wanted to see how we could be more integrated into the community,” Afroz Khan, the outreach director at the Muslim Community Mosque, told Hometown Life.
The match started a few years ago after Farmington Hills Police Chief Chuck Nebus toured the Tawheed Mosque and discussed with Khan how sports can be used to “enhance police and community relations.”
Khan said the event started out as a simple barbecue to get to know their neighbors but has blossomed into an interfaith community event that benefits everyone.
An invitation came to put together a volleyball team, which the department did, and to play at a picnic at the Muslim Community Center.
The police did win the match which cemented relationships between the police department and a large segment of the Muslim community.
“This is a great annual event that builds bridges, strengthens relationships and helps the officers gain a better understanding and appreciation of the community we serve,” Nebus said.
“The police department may have won the volleyball games this year, but everyone who played and attended was a winner.”
After the picnic that Nebus noted something that demonstrates how well the relationship was working.
“I took note that when the official volleyball games and barbecue were over and most were headed home, a large group of police officers and young men from the Muslim Community Center were playing volleyball as darkness set in,” Nebus said.
Khan agreed, adding that the event helped everyone to know one another.
“We get to know all of our neighbors and the interfaith community,” Khan said.
“It helps people get to know us and be more comfortable with us in their neighborhood. The more we know each other, the more comfortable we can all feel with each other.”